"There’s doing it, then there’s doing it. Your first love... that last rollercoaster ride. Add to your life’s highlight reel by borrowing a bit of our spirit of people and place. Castlegar is hub-central for exploring life’s tickle trunk of outdoor activity in the West Kootenay. Camp, hike, shop, golf, fish, mountain bike, pursue arts and culture, or wildlife watch. Be an action hero. Life’s an adventure. Start a new one in Castlegar, B.C."
So says our tourism ad, which celebrates both our geography and the laid back friendliness of our people. In Castlegar, the mountains meet and the rivers converge. We are naturally beautiful, complete with fruit trees, grape vines that substitute as hedgerows, hot summers, snowy warm winters, and rugged to refined experiences. From river parks to cultural history on display in everything from events to our international Sculpture walk, Castlegar has much to enjoy in its own right. But the West Kootenay is a rather spiffy place to keep busy entertaining yourself. Downhill skiing in Rossland, ‘affordable awe’ in regional championship golf courses, mountain hiking and biking, rivers to fish, pristine lakes to boat or stare at ripples...we could go on.
Development isn’t over-baked in the West Kootenay – perhaps owing to its location mid way between Vancouver and Calgary. Just enough to keep you highly entertained, but not so much that you choke on car exhaust on the way to enjoying the great outdoors. It’s this balance that has led to an uptick in Castlegar area tourism visitation in recent years. To provide general perspective on market size, Kootenay Rockies (includes East Kootenay extending east to Radium Hot Springs) annual visitor centre visitation has ranged between 305,000 and 375,000 since 2004.
With 70% of West Kootenay population closer to Castlegar than other communities of size in Region, Castlegar has a natural tourism services hub function – from accommodation to restaurants to culture and entertainment offerings. There is corresponding investment opportunity related to both expanded quantity and improved quality of tourism services.
As a region that remains under-invested, there is significant investment opportunity in development of tourism-related activity – including but not limited to niche accommodation, attractions, recreational residential property, arts and crafts, food services, and retail services.